Home » Ducati Unveils Its First Single-Cylinder Motorcycle Engine In 30 Years And The Beefy Thumper Punches Out 85 HP

Ducati Unveils Its First Single-Cylinder Motorcycle Engine In 30 Years And The Beefy Thumper Punches Out 85 HP

Ducatinewstop1
ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re a fan of single-cylinder motorcycles, much of the news you’ve consumed lately has probably been about slower bikes like a Royal Enfield or perhaps Triumph’s new 400 singles. Aside from KTM’s fare, there’s not much choice if you want a big single. Ducati wants to change that with its new Superquadro Mono engine. This 659cc thumper makes 77.5 HP at a screaming 9,750 RPM stock or a whole 85 HP when equipped with racing pipes. Ducati is calling the engine the “most high-performance road-going single-cylinder engine ever” and I need it in my life.

Single-cylinders have been on a bit of a revival in recent years. While some brands, like KTM and Royal Enfield, have printed out single after single, other motorcycle brands are discovering that riders will not just ride a thumper, but love it! Thanks to this, riders are gaining choices in the market like the BMW G 310 GS, the BSA Gold Star 650, the Triumph Speed 400, the Triumph Scrambler 400 X, and more bikes I’m sure I’m missing. The point is, singles are in right now and if you love the feel and romance of a single as much as I do, Ducati is rolling out some serious eye candy.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

30 Years In The Making

Ducati Heritage Modelli Moto Supermono Gallery 1920x1080 01

It’s been a bit over 30 years since Ducati last offered a single in a roadgoing machine. Honestly, the last single offered by Ducati was barely a production vehicle with just 67 units ever produced. Ducati was founded as Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati in 1926 by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati with his brothers Adriano, Bruno and Marcello. Adriano was riding the wave of technological advancement going on in Bologna. Guglielmo Marconi invented radiotelegraphy while Adriano patented a short-wave transmitter that reached the United States. The company launched with products like capacitors, vacuum tubes, condensers, and more.

Ducati continued building technology products until the United States Army Air Forces’s Operation Pancake bombings destroyed its factory in October 1944. The company says after the war, it decided to shift its manufacturing. At first, Ducati made its name in the motorcycling world with creations like the Cucciolo motorized bicycle, the Gran Sport 125 Marianna racer, and the 125 GP Desmo.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ducati Heritage Cronistoria 1946 1960 Gallery 1920x1080 09

 

All of them were singles and Ducati says that 125 GP Desmo represented the peak of Ducati’s single-cylinder development. That bike introduced Ducati’s famed desmodromic valve timing. Ducati continued to build quick singles until 1974, when the brand began to focus on engines with more pistons firing.

Fast-forward to 1990, and as Motorcycle.com writes, Ducati’s then-engineering chief Massimo Bordi championed a project to create the perfect single-cylinder motorcycle. This motorcycle would be a thrill ride on the street and on the track in Sound of Singles racing while honoring Ducati’s past of raucous singles. Design work would be carried out by Ducati’s legendary designer Pierre Terblanche while Claudio Domenicali joined Bordi in chassis development work. Development was led by Gianluigi Mengoli.

Out of the other side came the 1993 Ducati Supermono. What made this motorcycle special was its engine. During development, the team went through a couple of iterations of the engine. The original design took a Ducati 90-degree V-twin, lobbed off a cylinder, but kept a dummy piston. [Editor’s Note: Wait, what? – JT] This 487cc engine had just 53 HP. A later iteration saw the power bumped to 57 HP.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ducati Supermono Racing 1446x834

A breakthrough happened when Bordi implemented a counterbalancing system that consisted of a second connecting rod, but that rod connected to a rod that pivoted on a pin. The engine’s innards look like a twin missing a piston. This allowed the engine to punch out more power while remaining smoother than a typical single. The result? 62.5 HP. Further development saw the displacement upped to 502cc and 70 HP before the final iteration rolled out with a 549cc making 75 HP and capable of roaring to 11,000 RPM. Oh, and did I say the whole motorcycle weighed just 220 pounds? Sadly, Ducati sold just 67 of them, so you’re unlikely to see one anytime soon, let alone even touch one.

Fear not, because 30 years after the launch of the Supermono, Ducati is doing it again.

The World’s Most Powerful Roadgoing Single

Superquadro Mono 01 Gallery 1920x1080

At the end of October, Ducati announced that it’s back in the game of singles, and it’s taking a big swing doing it. The Superquadro Mono sounds like a masterpiece. Like the engine that came before it, Duc cut down a twin as the base of this engine, from Ducati:

ADVERTISEMENT

This single-cylinder, designed by choosing refined materials and solutions for each component, is based on the Panigale 1299 engine, the 1285 cc Superquadro, which represents the maximum evolution of the Ducati street-legal twin-cylinder. The Superquadro Mono inherits the 116 mm diameter piston from the Panigale engine, the shape of the combustion chamber, the 46.8 mm diameter titanium intake valves, the 38.2 mm steel exhaust valves and the Desmodromic system.

The name Superquadro comes from the extreme ratio between bore and stroke which allows, thanks to the very short stroke, to reach rotation speeds typical of racing engines. On the Superquadro Mono this ratio is equal to 1.86 and is the most extreme in the category thanks to a stroke of just 62.4 mm. The record bore of 116 mm allows the adoption of large diameter valves to benefit performance, which however would not be possible without the Desmodromic system. This system, which Ducati also uses on the MotoGP bikes, allows the limits imposed by the valve springs to be overcome, enabling extreme valve lift laws. In this way, the Desmodromic system contributes significantly both to performance and to the possibility of reaching very high rotation speeds.

Ducati says that because of these changes, the Superquadro Mono punches out 77.5 HP at 9,750 RPM before bumping up against the limiter at 10,250 RPM. Torque is 46 lb-ft and it comes on at 8,050 RPM. Further, Ducati says that in racing configuration with a Termignoni exhaust, power is 85 HP coming on at 9,500 RPM with torque bumping up to 49 lb-ft. So, this is an engine you’ll need to wring out to get that power.

The impressive engineering continues with a die-cast engine crankcases with an integrated water jacket around an aluminum cylinder barrel.

Superquadro Mono 07 Gallery 1920x1080

Ducati says this setup allows for lower weight, better cooling, and allows for the head to be fixed directly to the crankcase, reducing overall engine size. The clutch, alternator, and head covers are made out of a magnesium alloy while the crankshaft is asymmetrical and mounted on differentiated main bearings. This is done to keep weight down and two countershafts join in the fray to keep vibes down to about the level of a 90-degree V-twin.

Ducati even seems to have put a lot of work into the transmission, from Ducati:

ADVERTISEMENT

The transmission relies on a six-speed gearbox with racing ratios derived from the experience gained with the Panigale V4. The first gear is in fact long to allow its use in slow corners, exploiting the maximum thrust available. The clutch is in an oil bath with progressive interlocking hydraulic control, characterized by a particularly reduced lever load and specifically developed to offer easy and intuitive braking behaviour, with maximum modulability on release and in engine brake management to facilitate power-sliding in corner entry.

Superquadro Mono 04 Gallery 1920x1080

The gearbox can be equipped with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) Up & Down. In this application, the DQS relies on a magnetic hall effect sensor and not the traditional load cell to improve accuracy and reliability.

Ducati is calling this plant the “most high-performance road-going single-cylinder engine ever.” The “road-going” part of that statement is important. There have been more powerful singles, such as Cosworth’s 300cc single-cylinder F1 engine that made 90 HP. There’s also the century-old Otto 175 HP, which is pretty gargantuan in size. Both make more power but aren’t engines made for production machines. So, Ducati may be right here.

Superquadro Mono 05 Gallery 1920x1080

It’s also notable that Ducati’s 659cc single is a wee bit smaller than KTM’s 690 LC4 big single, but makes more horsepower than the KTM’s 74 ponies. That said, the KTM in supermoto configuration nips at the Ducati with its 54 lb-ft of torque which hits at 6,500 RPM.

As of right now, Ducati is teasing only the engine. The company says you’ll get to see the first bike with the new engine tomorrow during the company’s Ducati World Première 2024 “Live. Play. Ride” event happening at 4 p.m. Central European Time on Ducati’s site and YouTube channel. Ducati doesn’t give us any more hints but does say the engine will have a detuned version for European A2 license holders.

ADVERTISEMENT

I’m happy to see singles getting some attention. Sure, 85 HP isn’t going to light the world on fire, but that’s still good power for a single. The Superquadro Mono should make for some seriously fun motorcycles and I can’t wait to see what Ducati has in store.

(Images: Ducati)

Relatedbar

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
29 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Captain Zoll
Captain Zoll
7 months ago

if it displaces <660cc, that means it’s fair game to put it in a kei car, someone absolutely needs to put one of these in a daihatsu copen.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain Zoll

Any 600cc i4 engine will make more power though.

Captain Zoll
Captain Zoll
7 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

yeah, but rolling up in a car with the sound of a thumper is infinitely cooler.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
7 months ago

When I was younger and dumber I had a California plated KX500. Take that Ducati!

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
7 months ago

Holy cow, that is one short piston! There’s hardly any side skirt on it at all.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
7 months ago

Hopefully they put this in a Monster, and actually sell it here, because that would be a bike that I would actually like to purchase as a first bike.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago

At 85hp, it could be a first bike, or a forever bike – it’s more power than many roadbikes. But it needs to provide tractable power to be livable.

It would be nice if they stuff this into a full-size bike/frame so it doesn’t look and feel like a small bike.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Thinking more about it, it would make an excellent club racer if it’s easy to work on. Like a modern SV650.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Ducati and easy-to-work-on are incompatible

Tiziano
Tiziano
7 months ago

Cross bike/hyper motard platform. Think Dakar.

Tiziano
Tiziano
7 months ago

Ducati is gearing up for Dakar dominance. It will be interesting to see how KTM will react but ducati had this project in the making for a while. I doubt they missed the mark. It’ll be a light bike since it has been developed with Tony Cairoli thus 85 hp is a monstrous amount. Like scary monstrous.

Last edited 7 months ago by Tiziano
Pedro
Pedro
7 months ago

If it is more powerful than the KTM single, it by a negligible amount, so “the most powerful single” seems a little overwrought. I don’t think it takes anything away from this motor, to admire KTM’s decades long constant development and investment in their single. It is a niche product and has been a labor of love. Hard not to imagine there aren’t more than a few of these motors disassembled and analyzed at Ducati’s batcave.

I’d also wait until we see what Ducati puts this motor in. Hopefully not one of their typically roccoco exercises in excess. More optimistically, it could be a beautiful machine. Let’s see.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
7 months ago

So, ya know how they are going to put 4 electric motors, 1 for each wheel, on an EV? They should put 4 of those on a car, 1 for each wheel.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
7 months ago

While I would absolutely love to see that, something about having to synchronize four motors and transmissions and the consequences of one or more of them not doing what it’s supposed to is kinda concerning.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
7 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I was thinking something light enough to not require a multi-speed transmission; a large go kart. Centrifugal clutches on each drive wheel. Then the problem of brakes….

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago

Give it a dry clutch for character, some bottom-end oomf for drivability, bodywork reminiscent of late-era Tamburini or early-Ducati Terblanche*, and I’d be very very interested.

*And, yes, I’m a fan of Terblanche’s 999, SS, and most especially the MH900e – not just the Supermono.

Pedro
Pedro
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Do clutches really have to have character. I’d think an 80hp single will have plenty.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago
Reply to  Pedro

It’s really hard to ignore the rattle of a dry clutch.

Add in the simplicity of a clutchplate replacement without worrying about oil/mess, and being able to show off an open clutch housing? Definitely character to me (and not in the traditional Italian vehicular sense of it leaving you stranded)

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I figure I’d get my pants or something caught in an exposed clutch. And then what about rain? Or do Ducati riders not ride in the rain?

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago
Reply to  Angry Bob

Speaking with my own, and experiences riding it in all sorts of weather:

The rain hasn’t had any effect on its performance. It might make a little more rattle the day-after rain, but I’ve not noted any difference in performance rain/dry.

As for getting something caught in the spinning plates, it was a concern, so I’ve got a partially-open cover on mine to limit the chance that it’d happen. I’m sure laces could get sucked into it, but never really found my leg/clothing/boot anywhere near it during normal riding.

Besides, you can always go back to the stock full-plate-coverage if you’ve got concerns to keep it dry and tucked out of the way – it also makes it much quieter if you don’t like the sound.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Or just buy a Japanese bike and never need to replace the clutch to begin with

A. Barth
A. Barth
7 months ago

I love a four-stroke single. Two-strokes are okay, but thumpers are excellent.

Yamaha made a couple of interesting roadgoing bikes with that arrangement: the SR500 in the late 1970s and the SRX600 in the mid/late 1980s. IIRC the 500 had a two-valve head while the 600 had four valves.

During that timeframe Yamaha offered the TT bikes, which were off-road only, and the XT bikes, which were street-legal dual-purpose/enduro models. Depending on the year, they had 250s, 500s, and/or 600s in each type. Those engines were also used in pure street bikes, like the SR500 and the SRX600.

Fun fact: the engine from the XT/TT 250 was adapted for a street bike by adding an electric starter, but the SR500 and SRX600 remained kickstart-only. Anyone who has tried to kick a big single into life may be wondering why the smallest bike (and the easiest to kick) would get an electric starter. The goal for the SR250 Exciter (possibly the least accurate name ever) was to encourage new riders who may have been put off by a kickstarter.

DadBod
DadBod
7 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I used to have a kickstart DR650 and that could be a workout to get started.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I have a Honda XR600. Find TDC. Throw your whole body as high into the air as you possibly can and then come down on the kickstarter like a Kung-Fu master.

Pickup_Man
Pickup_Man
7 months ago
Reply to  Angry Bob

I’ve got a high compression XR600 and a standard XL600 and start them just a little differently. Find TDC, pull the decomp and bump it slightly past TDC. Release decomp, reset kickstarter, send it. So much easier than fighting that compression stroke.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
7 months ago
Reply to  Angry Bob

Little mental gif of Jackie Chan assaulting a motorcycle kickstarter—heavily flavored by Hai Karate commercials style.

-thanks 🙂

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
7 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I used to ride big two-stroke singles in dirt bikes before falling in love with big four-stroke singles in sport quads. I absolutely adore all the singles that Yamaha puts in their sport ATVs, and each time I get the itch for something like a utility ATV or SxS, I jump on my 18 year old Yamaha Raptor and fall in love all over again.

Tiziano
Tiziano
7 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I have a 96 Honda xr600r California street legal!

Close to impossible to start ha ha ha

29
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x